birthdays

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today, 9 October, would have been John Lennon‘s 78th birthday. Sadly, along with my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, he is no longer with us.

But let’s talk of music, and not sad things.  I have been trying to decide which is my favorite Lennon song. He’s written some of the best music of my generation. From All You Need Is Love, Cry Baby Cry, Dear Prudence to Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and of course, the iconic Imagine.  And those are just a few. Here’s the Wiki page for a list of Beatles songs, and solo songs.

I’m stuck between two songs for my “favorite” Lennon tune. It’s almost impossible to pick just one song out of all of his stuff. The first track I’ve selected is Rain. This song was before it’s time. Although it uses the “standard” I – IV- V chord structure (in this case G – C – D), it has unusual features such as backwards vocal tracks.  From the Wiki article;

Rain has a simple musical structure. Set in the key of G major (the final mix pitches it about a quarter of a semitone below this, while the backing track was taped in G sharp), it begins with what Alan W. Pollack calls, “a ra-ta-tat half-measure’s fanfare of solo snare drums”, followed by a guitar intro of the first chord. The verses are nine measures long, and the song is in 4/4 time. Each verse is based on the G, C, and D chords (I, IV, and V). The refrain contains only I and IV chords, and is twelve measures long (the repetition of a six-measure pattern). The first two measures are the G chord. The third and fourth measures are the C chord. The third measure has the C chord in the so-called 6/4 (second) inversion. The fifth and sixth measures return to the G chord. Pollack says the refrain seems slower than the verse, though it is at the same tempo, an illusion achieved by “the change of beat for the first four measures from its erstwhile bounce to something more plodding and regular”. After four verses and two refrains, a short solo for guitar and drums is played, with complete silence for one beat. Following this, the music returns accompanied by what Pollack terms “historically significant” reverse lyrics. Musicologist Walter Everett cites this closing section as an example of how the Beatles pioneered the “fade-out–fade-in coda”, a device used again by them on Strawberry Fields Forever and Helter Skelter, and by Led Zeppelin on Thank You.

Allan Kozinn describes McCartney’s bass as “an ingenious counterpoint that takes him all over the fretboard … while Lennon and McCartney harmonize in fourths on a melody with a slightly Middle Eastern tinge, McCartney first points up the song’s droning character by hammering on a high G (approached with a quick slide from the F natural just below it), playing it steadily on the beat for twenty successive beats.”

Ringo Starr called it his best drumming ever recorded.

The other track and I would probably place it above Rain in my list is Hey Bulldog. This is from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. It was cut from the USA release of the movie to shorten the time but was added back in for the 1999 re-release. When granddaughter-the-elder was an infant I would sing Yellow Submarine to her when she was fussy. Both granddaughters still love the song.

The biggest appeal for this song is that I can play the riff (along with the riff from Day Tripper). I know that’s not a good reason to call this a favorite, but it works for me. You can always make your own list!

So here on John’s birthday, I implore everyone to follow his advice, and “Give Peace A Chance”.

Have a different favorite of John’s? Tell me in a comment!

Peace,
B

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And A Good Time Was Had By All

As I mentioned on my 4th of July post, Wednesday was granddaughter-the-elder’s birthday, and Thursday was Wifey’s®. Last Monday, granddaughter-the-elder informed us she was having a unicorn party at both houses (as in our house and her other grandparent’s where she lives). Of course, she didn’t bother to ask us if she could have a birthday party, she just decided she was going to have a party, and that was the end of the discussion.  Well, what’s a good papa to do, other than making sure she has a unicorn party? Between Wifey®, son-the-younger (AKA Daddy), and myself, we managed to get everything together.

Wifey® and granddaughter-the-elder, along with granddaughter-the-younger, starting browsing the Intertubes for unicorn party ideas. Somehow they decided on unicorn cake pops. Now we have never made any cake pops before, much less unicorn type, so Wifey®, being the smart cookie that she is, said we should make a trial batch before the party so we could get things right. Damn good thing we did. The first batch was an utter failure. The “instructions” (not really instructions – more like general ideas) were so generic, nothing went as shown. So she broke down and bought a cake pop tray. And while the cake pops came out correct, it was still anything but smooth sailing.

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Nekkid cake pops

The concept is once you have the cake pops baked and stuck on a stick (and there are several sizes of sticks available – but no advice as to which size to use), you’re supposed to dip them in some melted candy. This will give them a nice smooth surface to decorate, plus it seals the cake portion making them last a bit longer.

But here’s the thing. We bought a package of “candy melts” that are specifically made for this type of project. We bought a 10-ounce package (only size available), the “instructions” say you only need 4 ounces to cover 24 cake pops. Bullshit. For one thing, despite following the melting instructions on the candy packaging, I never could get it to dippable consistency. I have been melting chocolate and other candies for many years and never had a problem like this. One “instructional” video shows that instead of dipping the pops, use a spoon and drizzle the melted candy over the pops. Nope, not gonna happen. The candy was never liquid enough to drizzle either. So we ended up only covering some of our pops.

So on to the unicorn decorations. Wifey® found “instructions” on how to make a unicorn horn with fondant. It sounded easy enough. Just roll out some fondant cut into about a 2-inch section fold, and twist to look like a horn. You can then mount it on a toothpick, or something similar, so you can stick in a piece of styrofoam like stuff and put them in the fridge to harden. Once they’re hard you paint them with a small mix of either water or something alcohol based (for quick evaporation) and some edible glitter. We used vanilla extract, but I think the dark color of the extract made the horns turn too dark. But for the ears, mini-marshmallows cut in half, and painted with the same mix, they came out beautiful.

Next, we were supposed to draw eyes on the pops. We

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have special edible markers just for this purpose. But since the candy coating didn’t work correctly, and wasn’t smooth, it didn’t work either. But granddaughter-the-elder had a blast doing it anyway!

Wifey® then showed up my failures by piping the manes and little flowers on some of the pops. She has considerable piping skills!

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But, cake pop issues aside, the party was a lot of fun. Since we didn’t have a lot of time to plan it, we let granddaughter-the-elder set the guest list. So only a few really close friends of hers were invited.

Daddy (AKA son-the-younger), made us some homemade pizzas. He is a sous chef for an Italian restaurant here in town, and he has this pizza making stuff down pat. We had five pizzas and a mess of garlic knots (also homemade). And they were amazing!  I think we only had three slices of pizza left over!

The best of all the kitchen work was how little I had to do. Not that I didn’t want to help, but my lower back issue flared up again Saturday afternoon so I was on muscle relaxers most of the weekend. So all I really did was sit and chop veggies, and fail at the candy coating for the pops. It also meant that I couldn’t join in on the tequila shots later that evening.

Granddaughter-the-younger said that the kids were celebrating sissy’s birthday and the adults were celebrating memaw’s (Wifey®) birthday. So there was a water balloon fight (all ages), fireworks later in the evening, beer (and I did have some of that) & tequila (adults only!) and movies with popcorn and a sleepover (kids only!). My driveway looks like a battle zone right now. Remnants of fireworks and brightly colored balloon pieces are everywhere.

One of granddaughter-the-elder’s presents was a stuffed turtle. She has a fascination with any stuffed toy, with a soft spot for turtles. The turtle looks decidedly drunk. One droopy eye and the pupils are different sizes! She absolutely loves it.

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SO… how was you’re weekend?

P.S. If you have any good tips on cake pops, please leave a comment.  Thanks!

Peace,
B

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